welfare schemes

No Aadhaar, no service- Notifications making Aadhaar mandatory

In Aadhaar news, in the first few months of 2017, the Central Government has issued a spur of notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for various schemes that provide essentials and basic amenities. These notifications are issued under Section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act (hereinafter the Aadhaar Act), by several Union Ministries responsible for the roll out and implementation of these schemes. These new notifications have made Aadhaar mandatory for programs like mid day meals, scholarships for disabled students, availing insurance for crop failure, rehabilitation of bonded labour, and welfare scheme aimed at journalists, to name a few.

Apart from these, recently, the Department of Telecommunication issued a notification on 23rd March, 2017 that orders Aadhaar based e-KYC for re-verification of all mobile subscribers, and the amendments made to the Finance Bill, 2017 make Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns and when applying for allotment of permanent account number (PAN).

Per the notifications available on the E-Gazette as of 27th March, 2017, we have collated a list of 52 such notifications that make Aadhaar mandatory despite the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders restricting not only the use of Aadhaar, but stating its voluntary nature, and prohibiting denial of service to anyone due to the lack of an Aadhaar card.

The legal foundations of the Aadhaar scheme, and its current legal status are complicated. The Supreme Court in its orders dated 11th August, and 15th October, 2015 had restricted the voluntary usage of Aadhaar to only six government schemes, and maintained that no person would be denied access to any service due to lack of an Aadhaar card. These six government schemes were, LPG, Public Distribution System (PDS), MNREGA, Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojna, Employees’ Providend Fund, and National Social Assistance Programme. However, on the legislative side of things, the Aadhaar Act was passed in March 2016 as a money bill in the Parliament, but the Supreme Court’s orders of 2015 putting limitations on the operation of this scheme until the pending matters are decided with finality are still in effect.

The notifications by various Union Ministries issued since January, 2017 are under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act. Section 7 gives Central and State governments power to make Aadhaar or enrollment into the scheme as a condition for availing benefits of schemes that incur expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. The notifications issued by the various Ministries make Aadhaar mandatory for ‘beneficiaries’ of these schemes, which may vary from individuals receiving the entitlements under these welfare programs, or even employees’, contractual staff, Anganwadi workers getting an honorarium or remuneration while working in departments providing these services.

Majority of these notifications have a designated deadline before which “Any individual desirous of availing benefit under the [said] Scheme, who does not possess the Aadhaar number or has not yet enrolled for Aadhaar shall have to apply for Aadhaar enrolment by [a set date], provided he or she is entitled to obtain Aadhaar as per the provisions of section 3 of the said Act and such individuals may visit any Aadhaar Enrolment Centre (list available at UIDAI website (www.uidai.gov.in) for Aadhaar enrolment.” This date is an indication of a time period until which claims under these schemes can be made sans Aadhaar or its enrolment.

A consolidated list of these notifications updated till 27th March, 2017 can be found below.

[SFLC.in’s resources on Aadhaar can be accessed here]

Image Credits: Projet de biométrie. Credit: Benoit Crouzet/Flickr CC BY 2.0

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